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Why are bee suits white?

Why are bee suits white? Good question. Presumably bee suits are white because honey bees don’t like black. I’ve read that bees will attack dark things that move because they think that they are bears or skunks or raccoons. I’ve also read that bees will attack dark areas of the body such as the eyes.

But here’s one that tops all: I’ve read that if you wear pink, honey bees will gather around you because they think you are a flower. Really?

These explanations leave unanswered questions. For example, there are many colors that are neither black nor white nor pink. How do they affect the bees?

Also, if bees are so focused on black, why is it that most bee suits—especially the types with built-in hoods—have black netting over your face and eyes? Shouldn’t that be the very last place to be black? If you wear a white suit and a black veil are you not making your face a target?

Honey bees are not easily deceived

I was asked for my opinion on this, so here it is: I think bees are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Honey bees know you are a “threat” because you move and breathe and pry open their homes. They are not going to change their minds about you if you wear white, or blue, or pink polka dots. And trust me, they know you are not a flower.

I’ve worn light clothes and dark clothes and never noticed a difference in bee behavior. I’ve worn black veils and white veils, too, and saw no change. In my opinion, the aggressiveness of honey bees is more dependent on the variety, the season, the colony life cycle, the time of day, the temperature, the state of the queen, and the health of the colony. You can dress like a snowman, but you’re not going to fool your bees.

At least one company I know of—B.J. Sherriff in the U.K.—sells bee suits in colors. Way to go. Last I checked they had orange, blue, aqua and other choices as well. I’ve also seen pictures of bee suits made in forest camouflage, which also seems to make sense.

What I really want is a dingy gray suit with pre-printed brownish orange stripes across the front and green stains on the legs and seat. That is what mine look like after a few weeks anyway, so why not start there? The bees are busy being bees . . . and they just don’t seem to care.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

Comments

Anneke
Reply

Maybe you can wear a yellow and black bee suit — then the ladies will just think you are one of them! 🙂

Cute post.

Peter
Reply

In this part of the world we do not wear a veil or a bee suit … too hot …. Normal clothes of any color do not attract attention. A veil is worn by a minority but it is to keep the mosquitos off rather than the bees.

I was told that bee suits are white because darker colors have a strong smell due to the dye added to give the color and that does not go down too well with the bees.

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, Peter. Dye in the fabric is an explanation I haven’t heard before. Interesting.

If I recall, your part of the world is Thailand. I cannot imagine the heat inside a bee suit in that climate. Here, I can hardly stand them when the temperature rises above 60 F. Do you use smoke or something else to keep the bees at bay?

casey
Reply

I was asked this question just today by a friend who came by for a bee sting to get rid of her tendinitis. I will have to tell her what I have learned!!! Thanks!

Emma
Reply

What if you disguised yourself as a little rain cloud like Winnie the Pooh? That might fool them! Very interesting, I have been choosing my new bee suit and wondering what colour is best. I may as well go for pink!

L.Koh
Reply

Beekeeper suits have black netting in front of face so it doesn’t reflect light to the wearer’s eyes.

Craig
Reply

The secret is that bees sit around in the hive all night, watching really old western movies.

Thus they think that the good guy always wears white and the bad guy always wears black.

Of course your bees wouldn’t know this, because you live way out in the woods where the bees can’t get their favorite cable channels, like AMC. Thus they will sting anyone that comes near, just because they’re miffed over having to watch broadcast TV. 😀

Deborah
Reply

I think sky blue would be a good color.

mama
Reply

White reflects the heat of the hot hot summer sun. white is the new black.

Cj
Reply

I really didn’t think it mattered until I wore some different gloves black and yellow and my bees which never bother me went wild stinging the black portion of the gloves!

Marcellé
Reply

My bees sting me when I wear black and they also only attacked the black dog. I don’t think they like dark colours.

Danielle
Reply

Marcelle,

My bees sting me when I wear white and they attack my white dog, so I don’t think it’s the colors. It’s people and dogs they don’t like.

Granny Roberta
Reply

I think bee suits are white because honey harvest is when you need them most, and that tends to be in hot weather on a sunny day, and dark colors would make the poor beekeeper even hotter and sweatier than she already is from lifting those boxes.

Rusty
Reply

Granny,

That’s what people always say, but my camouflage bee suit which is really dark, it the most comfortable and coolest one I have. I think it has more to do with the design than the color.

Raul and Amber
Reply

Rusty,

Maybe you could sell your marked up bee suits at a premium! Like acid washed jeans or jeans with “fashionable” holes already in them for $200.

Get this seasons latest fashion! Propolis stained bee suits! Only on honeybeesuite.com!

This way people wouldn’t worry about keeping their new suits clean.

-Raul

Rusty
Reply

Raul,

I like that. A real fashion statement.

Ingegerd
Reply

Since bees cannot see red, I think that would be the perfect color for a bee suit.

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